Hornets had third season of nine or more wins in past four years in Rulo's second season as head coach. Sixteen players received either all-district or all-conference recognition or both
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — A third season in the past four of nine or more Chillicothe High School varsity football wins and the myriad ways a memorable 2019 season of Hornets football evolved, both in the public glare and behind the scenes, was celebrated, along with the even-larger number of people it took to make it happen was celebrated and recognized Sunday night (Nov. 24) at the annual CHS football awards program.
CHS second-year head coach Tim Rulo served as master of ceremonies, sharing thoughts on the just-ended 9-3 season, looking only briefly ahead to efforts to continue CHS’ storied gridiron success, and bringing to the stage of the United Methodist Church of Chillicothe’s fellowship hall his various assistant coaches and others to provide reminiscences and recognition of those who contributed to an excellent bounce-back year.
As always, a highlight of the event was the announcement of the winner of the annual Shawn Trager Memorial Scholarship, given to a senior by the family of the late early-2000s Hornets multi-sports standout, who died in a traffic accident a year after his graduation from CHS. Dawson Wheeler was announced as this year’s recipient of the one-time $1,000 college scholarship. He also receives a trophy.
On the heels of a 4-7 2018 campaign in his inaugural season at the helm, following the retirement of long-time head coach Phil Willard, Rulo shepherded this year’s Hornets to a better-than-expected season, both in terms of won-lost record and statistically.
Prior to the season-ending loss at Savannah in the Class 3 District 8 championship game, the Hornets not only had won nine of 11 previous 2019 games, but, added to a late-2018 surge, had prevailed in 12 of their last 15 outings. The wins total matched that of the 2016 club and fell only one short of equaling the renowned 2017 squad.
As Rulo momentarily referenced what 2020 and beyond might hold, he said to this year’s underclass lettermen, “This year’s seniors are now history. The mantle has been passed to you.”
Even more dramatically than during Rulo’s first CHS season, when only three starters from the previous year returned, next year’s Hornets will have huge gaps of starting experience. The only full-time, season-long, non-senior starter for Chillicothe this fall was junior offensive tackle Landon Swift, although three sophomores started some and played relatively often. A number of other projected 2020 returning Hornets from the 11th and 10th grades saw varying amounts of use to try to accelerate their readiness for projected first-string duty a year from now.
Theoretically aiding in the restocking of the varsity lineup shelves will be players from this year’s junior-varsity and freshman levels who combined to win 12 of 14 non-varsity games in 2019.
Stated Roman Cranmer, sub-varsity-levels head coach, said of the 2020 prospects, “You can honestly say the future is bright with these guys.”
In addition to reaching the district championship game for a second time in three years, the 2019 Hornets placed third in the 7-teams Midland Empire Conference, had 16 different players earn either all-MEC or all-district postseason laurels, and broke a few statistical team and individual records. They also had players or the team collectively produce statistical performances which rank high in the hallowed annals of CHS pigskin play.
Fifteen of this year’s Hornets gained some level of all-conference recognition, including five first-teamers. Named first-team were senior offensive and defensive linemen Isaac Washburn, senior linebacker Dawson Wheeler, senior defensive back Colten Sewell, senior running back Isaak Rasche, and senior punter Jaden Winder.
Getting second-team spots were senior offensive linemen Cameron Dush and Brock Gott, senior offensive end Brad Hayen, sophomore defensive “specialist” Braxten Johnson, Wheeler at fullback, and Sewell at wide receiver. Honorable mention (players who received at least one vote from league coaches) went to seniors Hayden Hill and Hayen (linebacker), Isaih Kille and Luke Hopper (defensive line), seniors Kam Ward and Rasche (defensive back), Winder (quarterback), K. Ward (running back), senior Jamacin Carr (placekicker), Rasche (kick returner), and sophomore Damarcus Kelow (defensive line).
Chosen to either the Missouri Football Coaches Association’s or Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association’s all-district teams (the MFCA selection was from the eight schools in playoffs district 8, while the MSSA honors are for the geographic northwest quadrant of the state with players from a half-dozen schools up for consideration) were eight CHS players – senior defensive lineman Keagan Rinehart, Wheeler, Sewell, Kille, Winder, Hopper, Washburn, Hill, and K. Ward.
Rulo disclosed that four team members – Hopper, Johnson, Wheeler, and Washburn – met the requirements to be MFCA Academic All-State players. That requires at least a 3.5 cumulative grade-point average (on a 4.0 scale), being in the top 10 percent of their class, having a score of at least 25 on the ACT college-readiness exam, and having earned a varsity football letter.
The Chillicothe head coach also announced 39 players earned Hornet Scholar-Athlete status by achieving at least a 3.3 GPA during the school year’s first quarter (with which the football season coincides).
Alphabetically, that group – covering all four grade levels – included Griff Bonderer, Braden Constant, Hudson Corzette, Carter Crawford, Anderson De Jesus, Bryce Dominique, Dush, Cameron Fleener, Josh Gault, Gott, Nick Greenslate, Seth Hansen, Hill, Hopper, Johnson, Kelow, Gage Leamer, Brock Miller, Cooper Murphy, Shawn Murphy, Ben Pithan, Cayden Potter, Trace Rardon, Rasche, Ryder Rempel, Carson Rhodes, Kamryn Rinehart, Corbin Rodenberg, Sewell, Isaiah Sprong, Trey Tipton, Max Wagers, Tucker Wagers, B. Ward, Washburn, Josh Watterson, Wheeler, J. Winder, and Landon Winder.
During Sunday evening’s program, Rulo relayed from CHS sports records researcher Randy Dean that the 218 first downs this year’s offense generated matched the team record set by the 2008 state semifinalists and broke the record for first downs averaged in a game by averaging 17.67.
Also during the year, Winder established single-game, season, and career yardage records for rushing by a Chillicothe quarterback. As further research is done by Dean, it is anticipated he also will have set CHS marks for single-game, season, and career rushing touchdowns.
When Wheeler, Winder, and Rasche each rushed for at least 100 yards in the Hornets’ district-playoffs victory over St. Joseph: Benton, it matched the team record for most 100-yards rushers in a game, done three times previously.
Each letterman was called to the stage by either the head coach or one of the assistants/position coaches to receive his letter. While the head coach introduced all of the non-seniors without elaboration about any individually, each of this year’s seniors had remarks made on his contributions and performance by a coach.
Rulo, defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Chad Smith, first-year offensive line coach Aaron McQuinn, and defensive line coach Michael Smith handled three senior intros apiece, while ends coach Brett Cavanah and secondary coach Cranmer present four each.
The 2019 football cheerleaders were introduced, as well, by second-year CHS cheerleaders coach Jessica
At the program’s start, Rulo presented tokens of appreciation to the 2019 team’s managers and student video volunteers. On behalf of his two young children, he also introduced CHS alumnus and ex-Hornets player Don Murrell, manager/caretaker of the school’s Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II, to whom the youngsters presented a toy utility vehicle similar to the one Murrell uses extensively in his job. The coach related that, because his young son and daughter love to come to the team’s practices, Murrell graciously keeps a watchful, protective eye on them while their dad coaches.